A checklist for deciding how and when to use a staging service when selling your home



ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor
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When you and your real estate agent are preparing to sell your home, one of the most important tasks is to make sure it looks amazing. Potential buyers are going to start making snap judgments about your home the instant they pull up, so you have to make certain everything from the front yard to the back fence looks great. Many sellers work with their agent to make their home look great. However, there’s a new trend that’s becoming very popular and is getting better results: working with a professional stager.

What is a stager? A professional stager is an expert in bringing out the best a room has to offer. Their mission is to make every room in your home look inviting, light, airy and beautiful. They do many things that an interior decorator would do. In fact, some staging professionals also offer interior decorating services to clients who aren’t moving. However, there are a few differences between staging a home and decorating one.

 Is using a stager that important? Professional staging is a relatively new industry. Real estate agents used to do all of the staging themselves if their clients were still living in the house while it was on the market. However, agents aren’t professional decorators, and many simply didn’t have the time it often takes to professionally stage an entire house. Some people didn’t see the point of staging, either.

 However, in the last 15 to 20 years, staging has become recognized as a crucial factor in selling your home. The Real Estate Staging Association was even created to certify professional stagers and create a set of industry standards. According to a number of surveys done by the association and by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), staged homes sell on average 43 percent faster than homes that aren’t staged. That alone is a great reason to use a stager.

 It’s not the only reason, though. Those who have their home staged often get their full asking price, and some even make over that price. In most cases, all you have to do is to invest about 1 percent of your asking price in staging to see results. Because of this, more than a third of all real estate agents now stage every home they list, according to a 2015 NAR survey.

 Staging in the world of online listings. The internet is partially responsible for the creation of the staging industry. Today, nearly every home that’s listed with a real estate agent appears online in the MLS system, on the agent’s website and on other sites. Many potential buyers browse these listings before they even approach an agent so they know exactly what properties they want to see. Between work, hobbies, their children and other demands on their time, buyers simply can’t look at dozens of properties like they used to. Instead, most do their research ahead of time, before they find a real estate agent.

 This means your home’s online listing has to really shine. It’s now doing the bulk of the advertising for your home. If the photos posted online are of messy rooms with poor lighting taken from awkward angles, you’re not going to see many interested buyers. For many, these photos provide the first impression of your property. They have to be outstanding.

 That’s where the stager comes in. They will transform each room in your home into an organized, perfectly arranged space that potential buyers can see themselves in. Often, your stager will remove a lot of your personal effects to help make the room more of a blank slate. This is one way in which staging differs from interior decorating. With the latter, you’re trying to add more of your personality to the room. With the former, you want to remove some of your personal touches.

Take advantage of staging. While staging may add another small upfront cost, it’s something that more and more professionals are seeing as a necessity. The numbers clearly show that staging does have an impact on how quickly your home sells and the final price. If you plan on selling your home, consider bringing in a stager. You may be surprised at how they transform your property and at how quickly you get offers.

 Finding a professional stager. Many real estate agents have formed professional relationships with a local professional stager. Usually, these stagers are familiar with the type of homes that the agent sells. For example, those who specialize in historic homes will work with a stager who knows how to make older homes look gorgeous. An agent who is well-connected to the LGBT community will likely work with a stager who is also LGBT, or understands the gay market. (GayRealEstate.com is one resource for tracking down queer Realtors in North Texas.)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition MARCH 3, 2017.